Presented at First Congregational Church of West Boylston, 11/6/2011…
I am standing here today because of your generosity. All of you have been very supportive and very patient with me, even when my microphone doesn’t work, or I stumble, or forget a name, or don’t see Steven sitting over there, whispering that I’m supposed to be saying something now, or perhaps George motioning for me to … sit down … sit down!!
All of this is a form of stewardship, of helping me to learn and grow and explore this Odd and Wondrous profession that I’ve been called to. But, I’ve seen Stewardship operating in so many other ways here: from serving coffee and ushering, to choir rehearsals. From preparing Church School lessons to sitting in long meetings. From planning for a service to wondering how best to support a local charity. From rejoicing over the arrival of a new grandchild, to sharing in the sadness of losing a loved one. All of this is Stewardship; and is an essential part of what being a member of the Body of Christ means. We’re more than just an audience listening to this week’s sermon. We work together to further the Good News here on earth, to fulfill the mission that Christ mandated for us, and to care for each other and our fellow human beings.
But, there’s a second aspect to Stewardship – yep, the money part. But, I don’t need to say anything about how our gifts and pledges are needed for maintaining the church’s infrastructure, paying salaries, supporting missions, or paying the bills (… Well, actually, I did just do that, didn’t I?)
But seriously, my own presence here is also due to a kind of death: the closing of Adam’s Square Congregational Church. When distributing the remaining assets after their church closed, Adam’s Square gave a gift to this church, and this congregation decided the best possible use of that gift was to fund a seminarian for this year – me; and for both Adam Square’s generosity, and yours, I am deeply grateful.
Our support of this congregation impacts many other people and places in ways we cannot know, just as those who gave their tithes and offerings to Adams Square, perhaps years ago, had no idea that some tiny bit of what they gave back then would eventually result in my being here today. The members of Adam’s Square gave, trusting that their tithes and offerings would be used in ways that furthered the mission of Christ in their community and elsewhere, and I am honored and blessed by that trust.
Finally, there’s a third aspect to Stewardship. I used to read stories and histories where Kings went gallivanting off on great adventures, but in these old stories there was also a Steward: the one who had the unglamorous job of staying behind and keeping things running when the Lord was away. It wasn’t a one day thing, or a one year thing, the Steward was committed to maintaining the Kingdom until their Lord returned. And in the end, I believe that is by far the most important part of Stewardship for us as Christians: we’re in it for the long haul, until Our Lord returns. Baptism is a sign of that commitment. Communion is a sign of that commitment. Membership in a congregation is a sign of that commitment, and so is making a pledge.
So, in closing, I ask that you join me in declaring our commitment – to be an active member of the Body of Christ in whatever way the Holy Spirit enables and moves us, and to be in it for the long haul, together.
Copyright (c) 2011, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via mention of my name on your site, or a link back to this site).